Boiling Crab, a Vietnamese-run Cajun-style seafood joint that set off a craze for spicy mudbugs down in Orange County, has just opened a San Jose outpost and Sangha says the seafood is excellent. Fresh, meaty crab (Dungeness is delicious, says PolarBear, but they have blue crabs as well) and crawfish are cooked just right and very spicy. Hounds with previous knowledge of other Boiling Crab outlets report that they serve Gulf oysters, corn, and sausage too; everything gets boiled in a bag along with the spices.
Red Crawfish, also a Viet-Cajun joint, beat out Boiling Crab by opening last fall in the Tenderloin. The crawfish, from the Louisiana Delta, is “clearly superior,” says Pei, “but nothing else is good.” Some entrées are poorly cooked, and the corn and sausage always comes out overdone and rubbery.
Still, those fresh crawfish are great, says PegS, who got the Delta variety. She compared the crawfish broth to the sauce at Sunset District joint Coco’s Crawfish, saying that the mild version is pretty meek spice-wise, but also more garlicky. “At Coco’s the mild starts with a slow burn and then, by the time you’re done with your meal, builds to quite a heat. At Red Crawfish the mild has a bit of a tingle but isn’t spicy enough to be layered into anything close to painful.” Medium spicy is a good level to start for those who enjoy some spice but aren’t chile-heads.
The best deal at Red Crawfish, notes Pei, is buying two pounds to go, at which point you get a pound for free. That’s three pounds for $26; invite some friends over and you’ve got a party.
The Boiling Crab [South Bay]
1631 East Capitol Expressway, San Jose
Red Crawfish [Tenderloin]
611 Larkin Street, San Francisco
Coco’s Crawfish [Sunset]
2333 Irving Street, San Francisco